The NFL draft is looming, and despite the fact that I boycott ESPN and forgot until right now that I have the NFL Network, there are still some things that I know about the draft and would like to profess here.
If you’re reading this, you’ve probably spent a full day or two watching the draft every year for the last several (and you’re probably upset about the move to Thursday because it ruins a Saturday with your best friends) and you know that the draft is a crapshoot.
Here’s the dirty little secret: The entire NFL is a crapshoot. Things fall in place for a team one year and they fall all out of place the next. The majority of teams are mediocre and then luck takes them to the top or bottom. There are a few teams that are genuinely more talented than others, and you know who they are because they’re good every year.
Think back to the last few years and realize how many games could have/would have ended differently if one play had gone slightly different, or if one pass had fallen incomplete, one tackle or block been made. Now think about how often a player appears as a flash in the pan, or how a guy will be good, then have a huge year or have a down year. Think about how someone thrives in one system and fails in another. All of these are the tiny little inconsistencies in the world of professional football.
So what’s the point as it pertains to the draft? Because it’s a crapshoot too. I have one theory for the first round of this year’s draft, and I don’t think I can make it any more simple:
I know you rate the possible draft picks. Take a look at the guys who you’ve rated Nos. 1-6. Whichever guy is available at No. 6 this year, take him. That is all.
Why focus so strongly on position? You want the best players on your team at all times, right? Now, there’s a limit to this, because if the Patriots had the No. 1 pick last year they obviously wouldn’t have picked a quarterback. But when your team goes 4-12 and spent some time quietly looking toward mediocrity, it’s obvious your team needs better players.
The only spot that might be set on the Browns roster is running back or offensive tackle. But if Luke Joeckel somehow falls to No. 6, draft him and convince someone to move around on the offensive line. There’s no telling whether or not the guys who performed well last year will be good this year. We can hope, obviously, but sometimes that’s not realistic.
Yes, it’s likely that Joe Thomas and Alex Mack play well, Phil Taylor disrupts some things, Joe Haden breaks up a lot of passes, Jabaal Sheard pressures the quarterback a bit, and Trent Richardson runs over some guys. But we have no idea if Greg Little will continue the late-season upward trend of catching passes. We don’t know if Brandon Weeden will settle down. We don’t know if the 3-4 defense will make a world of difference, allowing the Browns to start dominating teams on that side of the ball (not likely, because the rules are constantly changing to favor the offense, but whatever).
We don’t know if Travis Benjamin and Josh Gordon will blow up, giving the Browns three legit wide receivers, along with the newly-signed David Nelson. On the flip side, we don’t know if someone’s knee will blow up in Week Three, forcing the team to find a new superstar (I’m not using names or positions here for fear of jinxes).
My point is that there’s no way of knowing what you’re getting in the draft. Things seem clear on paper, but those things would also say that Jerry Rice shouldn’t have gone until about the sixth round because he was slow.
I don’t know. No one does. So pick the best player available and worry about the rest later.
P.s., I hope Dee Milliner will be the best player there.